Publix shopping list: Eggs, milk, auto registration

Publix streetview
Image by Octavio Jones | Tampa Bay Times

TAMPA, Florida—Publix shoppers can now renew vehicle registrations in less than two minutes at one of three stores in Hillsborough County offering a self-service kiosk through the tax collector’s office.

Attention Publix shoppers: Hillsborough County motorists can now renew their car registrations in less time than it takes to order a Publix sub at one of the first three area supermarkets to install self-service kiosks.

Hillsborough County Tax Collector Doug Belden announced the “Florida MV Express” program’s expansion Tuesday morning inside the grocery chain’s Shoppes of Citrus Park location at 7835 Gunn Highway. The bright blue and yellow automated kiosks are also up and running in two other Publix locations: Plant City’s Walden Woods store at 2202 James L Redman Parkway and the Lake Brandon Plaza Publix at 11255 Causeway Blvd.

“This is huge for us,” Belden said Tuesday. “Especially as our county continues to grow, we’ve been looking for ways to take the pressure off of our customer service representatives in different ways with emerging and cutting-edge technology. You can’t just keep building more branches.”

Tampa Bay Times

Belden’s office became the first agency in Florida to adopt the automated kiosks with a soft launch in early February at four of its busiest tax collector locations: in Brandon, Drew Park, North Tampa and Ruskin.

Since then, those four kiosks have processed more than 20,000 vehicle registrations, Belden said. The three Publix kiosks, only operational for a few days, have already renewed 160 vehicle registrations.

It’s a promising start, said Brian West, the supermarket’s Media and Community Relations Manager.

“Hillsborough was the first county in Florida to do this, but for Publix, these are the first stores in our entire footprint to have these kiosks — and we operate in seven states,” West said.

Of all the transactions conducted by the tax collector’s office, renewing vehicle registrations is by far the most common, Director of Branch Operations Dale Hoffman said. The department processes an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 registration renewals a month and more than 1 million a year. And even though the tax collector’s office offers renewals online and by mail, last year about 640,000 renewals were conducted in person at the tax collector’s branch locations.

On average, fewer than 50 employees work through 1,000 customers a day at any one of the agency’s satellite locations, Hoffman said.

“We’re excited because we’re always working to streamline things, reduce wait times and get people in and out of our offices more effectively and efficiently,” Belden said. “This is a huge step forward in this public-private partnership and if it’s is a success, this has the potential, like in other states, to be all over the place.”

Unlike the online renewal process, which can take several days for processing, the new kiosks allow customers to walk away with a new registration card and license plate sticker in less than two minutes, Belden said.

Source: Tampa Bay Times